Lutz, Hagerty, Carini debate the future of driving at inaugural ‘Why Driving Matters’ town hall
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., – Freedom, privacy, digitally detoxing, and the satisfaction of using your hands top the list of reasons millions of Americans will choose to continue driving and working on cars long after self-driving cars are the norm, a panel of automotive experts and attendees said at the inaugural “Why Driving Matters” town hall discussion at auction week in Arizona.
Panelists included Bob Lutz, former vice chairman and head of product development at General Motors, McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, and Wayne Carini, host of Velocity TV’s “Chasing Classic Cars.” The panel was hosted by Hagerty, the world’s largest specialty insurance provider for classic vehicles. The company plans to stage additional town halls across the country this year to gauge the public feelings on driving. Hagerty has also set up a “Why Driving Matters” forum at https://forums.hagerty.com/c/why-driving-matters.
“This question of why driving matters is really the question of our time right now,” said Hagerty. “There are millions of people who love cars but the story needs to change. What I’m seeing is the top of a lot of people’s heads walking around looking at their phones. We’ve all seen it, we’ve all done it. It’s very seldom you don’t see someone not connected to their screen. I think there’s going to be a backlash. I think in five to ten years’ time… more and more people are going to see the value in seizing their attention back, and I think that’s the value of cars without a lot of electronics in them. I’m a different person when I’m behind the wheel not paying attention to my digital device.”
Panelists agreed that self-driving technology – once widely adopted – will save lives, make commutes more productive and ease congestion in cities, but that doesn’t mean people will lose interest in driving themselves.
“There’s no need to panic, the transition to the future is going to take some time,” said Lutz, who predicted that in 10 years people-piloted cars will be banned in major cities in favor of standardized self-driving modules that won’t be individually owned. “(The federal government) isn’t going to tell us we can’t drive, they’re going to tell us we can’t drive in cities.” Total autonomy outside of cities, he said, is still “way out there.”
Lutz said autonomous vehicles are analogous to horses when mass-produced cars were introduced. Horses, he said, didn’t go away, they just weren’t allowed on the road. “The horse industry is still a gigantic industry and a wonderful hobby.” People-piloted cars, he noted, will follow a similar arc. “There will be a spawning of motor sports parks all over the country, just like golf courses.”
Carini emphasized the satisfaction many people feel in repairing, building and restoring vehicles. Cars, he said, are only about a century old and public fascination with them isn’t about to fade.
“Cars are so important for all of us. The automobile is in its infancy, it’s a little over 100 years,” he said. “Being able to repair cars, you become part of the automobile and the industry, and it’s so cool.”
People have different reasons for loving driving, Carini added, but for him the best moments are driving with his autistic daughter Kimberly, who is familiar to viewers of his show. “It’s a way where we really don’t have to talk – she doesn’t talk much. But we know that we’re there together and that’s what’s important.”
For more information, visit www.hagerty.com. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #SaveDriving.
Hagerty is a worldwide automotive brand dedicated to the love of driving. We are the world’s largest specialty insurance provider for classic vehicles of all kinds. The Hagerty Valuation Tool is widely viewed by the vintage car community and automotive media as the gold standard for current values and market trend insights. Hagerty, the magazine, is among the highest circulation car magazines in the country. Hagerty’s “The Barn Find Hunter” is among the most popular automobile focused shows on YouTube with more than 230,000 subscribers. Hagerty also offers Hagerty Plus, the industry’s most comprehensive roadside service, and prides itself on preserving and expanding our automotive heritage through the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA), the RPM Foundation and numerous youth outreach programs. For more information, call (800) 922-4050 or visit www.hagerty.com.